UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS) have announced a new mental health strategy that includes a screening programme for athletes when they join the high-performance system.

British Olympic and Paralympic sport has been hit by a series of athlete-welfare scandals since the Rio Games, where Great Britain and Northern Ireland finished second on both medal tables.

Archery, bobsleigh, canoeing, cycling, gymnastics, rowing, swimming and taekwondo have all faced allegations of issues ranging from abuse to bullying to racism, while this summer British snowboarder Ellie Soutter took her own life in a particularly tragic case.

These crises prompted UK Sport, the government agency that funds elite athletes, to ask the EIS, its sports medicine and science arm, to come up with a series of measures to provide more help to those who need it.

UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger said: "I don't think high-performance sport will ever feel cosy or comfortable – it will always be tough and hard and there will be high pressure.

"But we want to help people deal with it better. So just as I knew I had to be strong and fit to deal with the physical demands of the training, I think we should be making it easier for athletes to deal with the mental strain, too."

The former rower, who won six world titles and five Olympic medals during her career, said the intention was to promote a "positive environment for athletes, coaches and support staff".

UK Sport's strategy will be led by a new head of medical health – an appointment is imminent – and they will be guided by a new mental health expert panel, which is expected to feature four psychiatrists and psychologists, all with experience of high-performance sport.

There will also be a dedicated mental health section on the EIS website, to help athletes and staff find help more easily.

But perhaps the most significant development is the addition of a mental health screening programme to the induction process which all athletes and staff go through when they join a sport's elite set-up.

EIS director of medical services Dr Rod Jaques revealed that the programme will use a "sensitive questionnaire" to identify any potential issues in the same way that a medical examination would flag up any physical concerns.

The strategy is being formally announced on Wednesday, World Mental Health Day, and Dr Jaques said that sport has already learned a lot from industry and other sectors about how to address problems before they get out of hand.

"Success in elite sport requires both physical and mental toughness but we have to balance that against our duty of care and compassion for our fellow human being. Getting that balance right is the challenge," he said.

"We are never going to stop every hamstring from being pulled or prevent every concussion but we should always strive to be better, particularly when an athlete first enters a programme so they know that they are joining a system that is more sensitive, more alert, more compassionate and more reactive to these issues."